Weaving Ensembles

Remembering and Finding Stories for the Factory


  • Fernando P. Ferreira Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL




Factory, weaving ensembles, remember, stories, reimagination


This essay builds upon long-term practice-based research developed around Coelima, a textile complex founded in 1922 near Guimarães in Portugal, to explore the performative qualities of collective hand-weaving practices, or weaving ensembles, as collaborative practices of architectural fieldwork. The essay is structured into three parts. First, it draws on anthropologist Paul Connerton's argument that memory resides more in ‘incorporated memory practices’ (Connerton, 1989) rather than objects, to argue that weaving with Coelima workers and local agents can become an innovative mode of remembering and finding memories of the factory's life. The ensembles are explored as ‘events of the thread’ (Albers, 2017) to re-build the factory's unwritten and unsettling history since its deep economic crisis in 1991. Second, it discusses how two weaving capacities enacted in the ensembles – such as exchanging weaving skills on a re-designed loom and weaving’s duration – can benefit architects: to mediate memories and tacit knowledge while evoking long-term and ethical modes of ‘constructing’ stories rather than simply collecting them. Third, the paper suggests that weaving ensembles might be re-evaluated as creative practices of architectural fieldwork, which allow architects and planners to discover and use found stories as starting catalysts to reimagine the future of Coelima, and other places.

Author Biography

Fernando P. Ferreira, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Fernando P. Ferreira is an architect, artist, and creative researcher based between Porto (Portugal) and London (UK). His practice interacts with urban research, activism, art, storytelling, and textile practices. Fernando has collaborated with public institutions and architectural practices based in Porto (Portugal) and London (UK), and has taught urban studies at EAAD - Escola de Arquitetura, Arte e Design da Universidade do Minho. He is the co-founder and director of Space Transcribers. This Portuguese non-profit organisation works between art and architecture under a socio-political perspective through workshops, exhibitions, and editorial projects. Currently, Fernando is a PhD candidate at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL in London. He is developing practice-based research that explores archival, textile and writing practices, as site-specific, poetic, and ethical architectural methodologies, which together purpose an alternative story-based design brief that reimagines the future of a Portuguese textile factory under current dismantlement. 


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How to Cite

Ferreira, F. P. (2023). Weaving Ensembles: Remembering and Finding Stories for the Factory. Writingplace, (7). https://doi.org/10.7480/writingplace.7.6463